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How can copying an old prescription cause drug errors?

Increasing the efficiency of dispensing medicine is a matter that concerns pharmacies since many patients want their medicine as quickly as possible. However, pharmacists must take care that a measure such as copying old prescriptions does not cause drug errors.

An article in Pharmacy Times looks at how copying an old prescription works and why it could cause a patient to receive an incorrect prescription order.

The use of old prescription copying

Some patients require a new prescription for medicine they currently take. The computer system of a pharmacy may expedite the dispensation process by simply copying the previous prescription. While this may speed up the process, there are risks if a doctor has altered the prescription.

Possible errors from prescription copying

Pharmacies must verify the prescription information so it is current. Problems may arise if a pharmacist fails to catch a prescription change. The Pharmacy Times article describes a number of cases where a pharmacy provided a patient with the right drug but the incorrect dosage.

The reason a pharmacy failed to catch an error varied. In one case, a pharmacist filled a prescription before conducting the final verification of the prescription. In another case, the computer system permitted the person entering the prescription order into the system to simply copy the previous one.

Preventing medicine errors

Various options could prevent outdated information from causing drug errors. Pharmacy computers should offer more prompts at the data entry level to verify different pieces of information such as the drug name, the dosage, strength, and directions for use. Manual verification of information may help avoid errors caused by a computer entry.

Given that prescription errors can prove harmful to a patient, pharmacies have a duty to be vigilant for mistakes.